Michael Wacha was the star-studded pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Yasiel Puig was the breakout superstar for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then there’s Max Scherzer, who won the American League Cy Young Award. And Chris Davis, the unexpected home runs leader.
All four players had great seasons in 2013. But heading into 2014, the question is: Can they do it again? My prediction: Some will, some won’t.
After pitching only 26 games in the minors, Wacha was called up in the middle of last season. He was great right away. So great that he got two starts in the World Series. Can he do it again? My prediction: Yes. I think the way he pitches is amazing, and he will only get better. By starting 2014 in the majors, he will get more starts and will learn from the veteran pitchers.
Puig made his MLB debut on June 3, 2013, and had a dream-like start. In that first game, he had two hits and started a game-ending double play with a catch and an incredible throw to first base from right field. Can he do it again? My prediction: Yes. He showed that he’s a five-tool player – hitting for average, hitting for power, a great fielder with a great arm, and a very fast runner – and will keep showing it all through this season. Plus, by batting in the leadoff position, Puig will get more chances to hit and show his explosive offensive power.
Last season, Scherzer went 21-3 and was the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game. Can he do it again? My prediction: No. I think that part of the reason he won so many games was because the Tigers’ offense was so great thanks to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Now, with Fielder on the Rangers and Detroit being led by a rookie manager, I don’t think Scherzer will get as much support.
Davis started 2013 by hitting a home run in each of the first four games, including a grand slam in the fourth game. He finished the season slugging an astonishing 53 home runs. Can he do it again? My prediction: No. While Davis will still hit a lot of home runs, I don’t expect him to hit as many as he did last year. It’s really hard to hit 50 home runs in back-to-back seasons. The last player who did it without the help of PEDs was Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997 and ’98.
I might be wrong on my predictions. We have to wait until the season begins at the end of the month. But even if these four players don’t turn in repeat great performances, they’ll make baseball a lot of fun to watch in 2014!
Photos: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson (Wacha), AP Photo/Paul Sancya (Puig), Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Scherzer), AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar (Davis)